Bayview Rumble and the Wallenberg Big Four Challenge
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 by Rob Meronek
Bayview or Bust (and the Wallenberg Challenge)Story by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
Video by Barak Wiser
Friday, May 14th @ 9pm Texas Time - on the plane to SF
This is my kind of trip. Fly there, check it out, and get the hell out of there. No long-ass trip; just check out the action and be on our ways. Our flights out were on Friday night from TIA at 7pm. We had a layover in Dallas, and now I'm on the flight to SF.
Here's some detail for those that don't know: Deluxe Distribution are the guys that bring you Anti-Hero, Real, Rasa-Libre, Spitfire, Krooked, and Thunder. They are basically the voice of the industry as well, considering they have strong ties to both Thrasher and SLAP magazines. If they want to 'make you,' you're 'made.' If they want to ignore you, well, then it looks like you'll have to take that job on the assembly line, Bro.
The theory behind their Bayview Rumble trade show is to have an affordable, laid back environment that is skateboarder-friendly, where the buyers can feel comfortable when looking over the newest gear available. There are the usual parties, etc., but this show is different in a particular way: There is an informal contest at Wallenberg. You know…it's that school with the gigantic four steps that Markovich 180ed back-in-the-day, Frank Gerwer kickflipped a short while back, Steve Nesser pop-shoved, and most recently Tony Manfre switch 180ed.
I've seen the high ollie, switch high ollie, high nollie, longest ollie, and Koston Game of Skate all in person. Did you think that I was going to miss the Wallenberg Challenge? Hell no.
It's been a long, long time since I've been to San Francisco. My last trip there was in 1992. At the time, my friend Jeb Stewart was living in Oakland with Ron Allen. That's an entirely different story, but I drove out there with a few friends to visit him. We got to skate all of the OG spots…Embarcadero, the tennis court trannies, that one tranny on the top of the parking garage, China Banks, and especially all of the empty pools that were there at the time. See, that was right after the "Oakland fires," and all of the houses on the rich Oakland hills had burned to the ground. As we wound up and down the crazy streets, all that was left of the fabulous homes were steel frames and empty pools.
Just a couple of hours ago, on the last flight from Tampa to Dallas, Rob and I planned on hitting a couple of the current SF hot spots. We officially will be skating at the Pier 7 ledges and the China banks this weekend. Let's hope it happens.
Sunday, May 16th @ 8am Pacific Time - in the hotel room in SFAnd happen it did…we all woke up super-early because of the time difference and made our way down to breakfast. That's one really nice thing about Embassy Suites - the free breakfast in the morning with made-to-order omelets, pancakes, etc. It's basically a full meal.
Although the food was great, the hospitality was less than desirable. While minding our own business and grabbing some grub, the hotel manager came over and requested that Rob get up, go to the front of the hotel, and answer her questions. Everyone at the table and others around us were wondering what in the world was going on. On top of it, the manager was rude and snide with her "we're all adults here" lecture. Basically, Rob was accused of being the guy that set off an M-80 in the lobby the night before. The funny part was that this manic manager was convinced that it was Rob, simply based on the identification of a "hotel guest." Don't try to have a battle-of-the-wits when you don't know all of the facts - we weren't even checked in at the time of the incident. The manager checked the computer records and Rob gave her a verbal bashing as punishment. If Rob had been black, Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP would have been immediately called.
After being a skateboarder for over half of your life, you eventually get used to certain amounts of discrimination. I swear, that type of stuff never happens to me when I'm somewhere with my wife. It's as if society (and nice hotels) thinks that if you have a woman by your side that everything is okay, and there's no way you could be a 'problem.'
We brushed it off like we have so many times before and planned our trip to the City. Barry made the official announcement that he was going to work, so Rob and I caught a ride to the BART station. We were looking like the biggest tourists, having no idea how to even ride the train. I'm so far removed from city-life that the train even freaked me out. After a bunch of tunnels and stops, the sign on the wall read EMBARCADERO. We walked out of the ground to daylight and skated right to the EMB square that was so famous back in the early 90's. That's where modern street skating was pioneered, and it was cool to be there.
From there, we crossed the street and skated to Pier 7. Unfortunately, there was no Rob Welsh or Karl Watson to be found…it's like you go to these famous spots and you want to see the famous people skating there. I think the same thing happens to kids that visit Skatepark of Tampa for their first time - they expect Bastien to be cab-flipping the pyramid right when they walk in.
The next couple of hours were spent skating the Pier and China Banks and walking up steep-ass hills while taking in the sights of a 'real' city. By 2pm we were back at the hotel and ready to work. It's a good thing that "work" for us consists of walking around from booth (this time the trade shows booths were actually hotel rooms) to booth and seeing what type of alcohol each has to offer.
The hanging out went on for several hours, but my conversation highlight was talking to Andrew Reynolds about what he was going to do on Sunday at the 'berg. I'm not going to ruin it by writing about it, but Andrew has some plans.
The evening was spent at some club in SF…can't remember the name, but there were a lot of heads there. We left before Duane Peters and the Hunns hit the stage, but got to see some really good live hip-hop acts. And for some reason, there was a girl upstairs in the VIP giving Justin Williams from Venture a bunch of lap-dances right in front of all of us. Thanks for the show, Justin.
Monday, May 17th @ 1:30pm Eastern Time - in my home officeThe last 26 hours has been so intense that there is no way I can go into work today. It's like I'm depressed after all of the excitement or something.
Barry, Rob, and I caught a ride with Jim Thiebaud over to Wallenberg. The conversation was entertaining as we all pretended to not be hung over. When we arrived at the 'big four,' construction was in full effect - they were building a roll-in so proper speed could be attained to make it over the huge gap. In addition, stickers and banners were being placed everywhere and a sound system was being set-up. A famous skate spot was being transformed into an event hall.
Virtually 'everyone' was there…either hanging out or skating. I saw Jamie Thomas scoping the scene and all of the 411 filmers getting their spots. As the crowd showed up, they piled against the barricades. There were spectators on the roof, on top of RV's, on awnings, and you name it. If you didn't get there by about 11:30am, you weren't seeing the contest unless you were VIP and could go in front of the barricades. Frank Gerwer was drinking a tall-boy PBR - enjoying the glory as the first to ever throw a kickflip down the set. I estimate there were between 2500 and 5000 people there.
The contest literally started at high noon, just like the flyer stated. Jake Phelps was the master of ceremonies and played the Jimmy Hendrix version of the Star-Spangled Banner to kick it off. And then it was on…with Jake saying the "f" word a record number of times. I'm sure that he pissed off a ton of parents, but he sure kept me entertained. He was absolutely ruthless to some of the skaters, especially the ones he didn't know. Just imagine the worst thing that you've ever heard Brian Schaefer say over the mic and then multiply it times 10. It was hilarious, but I'm sure that there were some skaters hating on it.
For about the first 15 minutes of the jam, a lot of the participants were simply hucking themselves down the stairs. Some were kicking their board away on ollies. Others were legitimately trying to land 360 flips - several pros like Chris Cole and Caswell Berry, amongst a few unknowns. But no one cares about it if you don't land it, Pal. Although I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with Elissa Steamer's ollie attempts. All of you cowards that post lame comments on her Team Member page wouldn't have the balls to even give it a try. Elissa landed several ollies, but slammed while rolling away. She hit the pavement hard enough one time to call it quits.
Here are the makes:
Since we had no car and basically nothing to do since our flight wasn't until midnight, we skated a couple of miles through the SF streets to our friend's house. Robin, and her husband Jonathan, selflessly gave up their entire Sunday afternoon and evening to be our personal tour guides.
On the way to Fisherman's Wharf, we saw some insane banks in the front of this building. I realized that they were the same ones in Keith Hufnagle's ad where he's doing a bs kickflip. Against Barry's wishes, because he was very hungry, I insisted that we pull over and skate. After about an eight-minute session a cop rolled up. He was talking over the loudspeaker from inside the car and he was telling me to "get down." I thought that he was saying "get out" and I started skating away. He said, "Don't make me chase you down," and then I realized what he was trying to say and I hopped off my board and sat on the ground. From the back, two more cops show up and one immediately grabbed our boards and threw them in the trunk.
As usual, my wife tells me that if I'm going to have a mohawk and dress and look like I do, that I shouldn't be surprised when people treat me disrespectfully. But for some reason, I just never get over it. The main cop was a straight-up dick to all of us. He was short, rude, and down-talking me. He STRESSED that I would have a Federal Warrant issued if I didn't pay the ticket. I said, "Sir, I know you don't know who we are, but I assure you that we are good citizens with jobs and such. I WILL pay the ticket."
I started asking if I could have my board back and it was pretty much a "no." It was just our luck though, because the $100 tickets we were issued were payable by credit card, right there on the back of the ticket. I filled out the form, along with Barry, and we got our boards back right then and there. All of a sudden the other two cops started being really cool to us…as if we weren't that bad of guys after all. I'm bummed on having to drop a hundred bucks on the deal, but at least I don't have to get used to a new set of trucks.
The rest of the evening was spent at Fisherman's Wharf and checking out the City. After that quick experience, I want to go back and enjoy it again. Our plane left SF at 12:25am and we arrived at TIA at 10am this morning. It was a tiring, exhaustingly great trip. I'd do it again next weekend.